Kevin Bullis

A View from Kevin Bullis

Criticism of the Obama Administration's Volt Report

Did the review of GM’s prospects depend on unrealistic assumptions about its plug-in technology?

  • April 16, 2009

A couple of weeks ago a report from President Obama’s Auto Task Force roundly criticized GM’s Volt plug-in hybrid–an electric car designed to travel 40 miles on battery power alone and hundreds of miles using a gasoline or ethanol-powered generator. Now some are claiming that the task force’s assessment of the Volt may have been based on some erroneous figures supplied by a consulting firm.

A company reportedly hired to help the Auto Task Force, Boston Consulting Group, has recently published a report that includes estimates of battery costs that are far higher than GM’s own cost estimates, as well as those from other analysts, according to Felix Kramer, the founder of CalCars, an organization that promotes plug-in hybrids. He writes:

The report reaches questionable conclusions about costs for plug-in vehicles based on elevated battery costs, which it sees currently at $2,000 per kilowatt-hour now, declining to $500-$700 by 2020. This assumption is the heart of its analysis – and it’s one that automakers, especially GM, have strongly criticized. While not getting specific, GM has made clear that its battery costs (for packs, not cells) will be “hundreds less” than $1,000 for the first generation Volt and still lower in the second and third generations of the Volt, on which it is already at work. GM isn’t waiting for the “breakthroughs in technology” BCG sees as necessary.

Read the rest of Kramer’s analysis here.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.